There are times that I just don't understand what's going on. I mean I know why, it's money and the world needs money to operate, theres no new information there.
Today I walked past a very long row of potato chips, corn chips and flavoured rice crisps at a supermarket. The variety was staggering. Obviously there is a decent amount of money to be made from such a 'food' product. In fact if you walk the other isles of a supermarket you'll see loads of 'food' product on offer that also sells like hot cakes, from canned food, marinades, snacks, confectionary, ready made meals and frozen items. There's no shortage of this kind of 'food' product, the majority of the edible produce at supermarkets is of this elk. The problem is that it's not really food. This accusation will likely enrage some people, but there are many that get what I'm talking about.
I used to think it was food, and I loved eating it. The result was a very unhealthy adult. It's the same old story of the processed food with hidden amounts of sugar, salt, preservatives etc, and after years of relying on it, I got rather plump and sick with annoying aliments like hyper-tension, anxiety, depression and allergies. I'm not writing this to be a tin hat wearing scar monger, I'm simply sharing what I've observed from a personal experience. I'm thankful that I had some sort of turn around and began a (rather frustrating) journey of real food discovery. I say frustrating because if you can imagine your whole world turned upside down, everything you believed in turned out to be a load of bollocks. In the early years of my transition I'd pick up a item of 'food' at the supermarket, maybe some food item that I'd been buying for years, then I'd read the ingredients and pop it back on the shelf in frustration. No purchase would be made.
Anything that wasn't full of understandable ingredients, or had high salt, sugar or preservatives went back on the shelf. Anything that had ingredients that I knew went in the trolly, eventually this meant that most of my purchases ended up being whole-foods. That was my early days, eventually I went a little further and embraced some even harsher rules, of which I won't elaborate on for now.
I know there is someone reading this that will try to point out that processed food isn't bad, and I'm just not buying it because I don't recognise the names of the ingredients, of which most are safe, or they wouldn't be approved. Well that's cool, everyone is entitled to their opinion. and if you want to eat that food, be my guest. I'm not in the business of telling anyone what to do.
I'm interested in what's good for me, and I embraced real food, I opt for a fresh carrot instead of a frozen packaged carrot or tinned carrot or carrots in a pre-made frozen mixed vegetable stir fry, of a processed carrot soup, or a processed carrot flavoured cake mix, or carrot crisps, I'm sure you get the picture.
A long time ago I realised that I'd lost my connection with nature, I had no idea what was natural, I had no idea how important nature was to me. With hindsight this is an understandable situation, my life was flooded with media and advertising trying to sell me new products, or tote their healthy and worthy credentials. I was a bit confused, maybe even a little consumer brain washed. It was a bit of a struggle to wade out past the break of bullshit, and I think I may still be paddling and wading to this day, but probably not so hard. So I embraced real food and after many years of eating this simple kind of food, I have developed a different set of consumer eyes. When I look at a lot of supermarket 'food' I no longer see it as food. I still get pangs of wanting to make a purchase, but the knowledge I have now reminds me not to fall for the trap.
I may have learnt a valuable lesson, but it's come a little too late. My body is scarred. Today a newspaper came to photograph me for an article, and the photographer worked hard to get a nice portrait of a bloke that's not super in to having his photo taken. I asked to look at the photo he had taken and sure enough, rolls of fat in the middle area. I've lost a heap of weight (22kg since I was at my worse) but I still have the scars of a middle aged man that has a past. I'm the fittest and healthiest I've been in my adult life, but I still look like a sack of shit, and that is extremely frustrating, something I wish for nobody, not even people I don't like (and I can be pretty vindictive).
What's even more frustrating is how futile the situation is, allow me to elaborate. I'm sharing a little bit of my life experience in the hope that some younger person will read it, take something from the story that will keep them healthy and not take them down the path of ill health and obesity that I've walked. It's a horrible path which comes with complementary depression and anxiety not to mention the other health issues that obesity harbingers. The battle lines may have been drawn, but realistically we have no hope of winning the fight against crap food. It's a shame because it really is making a mess of our communities health. In fact I believe less people seem to listening, and the population is getting sicker. I understand why, what I'm sharing is not a very exciting message, it's not like a fun entertaining competition cooking show on TV, it's a bit of a crappy message but a message that needs to be heard (if we want to see change that is).
There are times when I ask myself what I'm doing with my life, why I've taken on the challenge of trying to alter our food culture in some way, no matter how small that change might be. My experience of a GROW, GATHER, HUNT, FORAGE guy put me back in touch with nature, it's given me some great skills and experiences. It's part of my daily routine now, it forms my annual calendar and it's based on what's happening in nature and it's wonderful. That was what 'Whole Larder Love' was all about, documenting my journey back to nature. I'm still learning lots of tricks but I no longer need to focus my energy on communicating that I'm JUST a grower of food, a forager of food, a hunter of food, as these are all just parts of my life, a life that revolves around eating better, being aware of what is good for me and avoiding what isn't good for me.
I was asked to provide a bio to someone the other day, and realised my bio is now outdated. I've changed, and that's a good thing. Sure I still do all those things with food, but I'm more interested in communicating the reasons behind why I do what I do, instead of just what I'm eating. I'm interested in the bigger picture. I'm interested in communicating that we need change, for our health, and the health of the natural world. I'm sure there are people out there willing to listen. I see first hand how unhealthy we are, surely we can all see it. How we make change I'm not entirely sure, but something needs to be done.
My other option is to disappear in these highlands, ignore the issues facing us, get a labouring job on a farm and never write another word. And that would kill me with frustration, let alone leave me with some level of guilt for not doing anything about what I know to be wrong. I'm not going to stop people in the supermarketers and tell them they're buying unhealthy food, instead I'll lead by example, I'll continue to share information and generate discussion which I hope, may lead to a change in thinking. Anything is better than doing nothing. I want to break rules, I want to rock boats, I want to make waves in what is currently very calm waters.